Which should be in your bag? Ben Outhwaite explains the difference then picks out his favourite models for both options
It’s one of the most important questions in this age of technology. Should you be using a golf GPS or laser rangefinder? (Who remembers yardage markers, stroke savers, or even just using your eyes?)
What we are here to do is bring some light on the situation. How has the modern world changed the game? Let’s read on…
What is a golf GPS device?
As with any GPS device, these pieces of tech use satellites to pinpoint your exact location.
Think of it as an electronic caddie.
This is why so many golfers are using them – for their ability to give information on yardages, including distance to the green and hazards.
They also come in a wide variety of forms, not just handheld devices. You can get yardages on your phone, watch, or even hat clip!
There is a downside, however. Although they sound accurate, they don’t give exact yardages to the flag, which is where the rangefinder steals the show…
What is a laser rangefinder?
Literally what is says, really.
Laser rangefinders have been used for some time in the military and hunting worlds, so they’re very much tried and tested.
They’re accurate to the last fraction of a yard, which is the single biggest reason why some golfers prefer them over GPS devices, the first being that you don’t need to worry about downloading any software or setting them up in advance. Just take them with you and put them to work.
But expect to also put your brain to work more when you’re using a rangefinder. Remember that you need to manually aim it at the flag to receive feedback; with GPS devices they will give you yardages as soon as you get to your golf ball.
So which is better?
It’s very much a personal preference kind of thing. If you’d prefer detailed information provided on a large screen then a GPS device might be for you.
But what about the laser rangefinder’s USP of dead-perfect accuracy? It’s a tough choice.
Here’s what our Twitter followers thought…
We know what you’re thinking: Can’t you just use both? Well, yes, and an increasing number of golfers are starting to do just that.
If you’re all about the stats down to the last tiny detail then you could be onto a winner with this form of double-technology. Expect to invest more, but if you’re planning on doing everything you can do lower that handicap then needs must, after all…
Regardless of what option you go for, we’ve picked out our favourite GPS devices and Laser Rangefinders on the market, so you don’t have to dig around for them.
You’ll find a ‘Buy Now’ button below each product, so when we say it’s just a click away, we actually mean it.
If you’re still thirsty for more killer golf equipment deals then check out the rest of our NCG Buyer’s Guides right here, but for now let’s delve into the world of golf technology…
The best golf GPS devices
Best overall handheld GPS device
SkyCaddie are saying the SX550 has the largest screen of any GPS on the market at a whopping 5.5 inches The HD screen means the graphics show up in incredible detail and give you a really great preview of the hole ahead.
Initially it comes with more than 30,000 golf courses pre-loaded. With the Wi-Fi connectivity you no longer need to connect to a computer to update these.
IntelliGreen Pro technology means you can get a direct view of the green, hazards and hole ahead. It also rotates depending on where you are playing from to make the yardages as precise as possible.
With all of these features combined, this is easily ones of the best handheld GPS Golf devices.
- 5.5” LCD Color Touch Screen provides more viewing screen with a super responsive vivid display.
- Lighter and slimmer body design than the original special edition SX500.
- Powered by an ultra-fast multi-core processor for fast response.
- Preloaded with over 35,000 of SkyGolf’s ground-verified, error-corrected maps for unmatched accuracy.
Best pocket-sized handheld GPS device
Garmin Approach G30 GPS
What will strike you first with this device is just how small and lightweight it is. It weighs next to nothing and easily fits in the palm of your hand.
The charging time is also very quick. Simply plug it into your computer with the USB cable provided or stick the cable into the plug end of your mobile phone charger.
It has 40,000 pre-loaded courses and there’s no sign-up of registering required.
It’s very much a case of turn it on and go which is often exactly what golfers are looking for.
- Compact GPS Device
- Full Colour Mapping & Touch Targeting
- Preloaded with more than 40,000 Courses Worldwide
- TruSwing™ Integration
Best value GPS device
Bushnell Phantom 2
As with the original Phantom the main screen clearly displays distances to the front, centre and back of the green to which you are playing.
This is available for 38,000 courses with auto course recognition and auto hole advance.
But the best bit is the dynamic green mapping which shows you the shape of the green, and the touchscreen element allows you to move the pin placement.
Another great thing about the new Phantom 2 is the free Bushnell GPS app you get with your purchase. The app provides fantastic graphics and technology to help enhance your round of golf.
- 40000 Pre-Loaded Golf Courses / Auto Functionality
- Precision Distances / Green View with Pin Placement
- 15+ Hour Battery Life / Caribiner Clip Attachment
- BITE Magnetic Mount Technology
Best GPS watch
Golf GPS watches are a thing, yes. The new SkyCaddie LX5 GPS Smart Watch brings you the tech of the SX500 and SX400 straight to your wrist.
It is driven by a powerful multicore processor to give you a simple-to-use touchscreen interface. This allows you to zoom and pan across the map to get any distances you require from hazards, carries, and green measurements.
It is pre-loaded with more than 35,000 courses which are regularly updated automatically when your watch is connected to WiFi.
- Golf’s largest and brightest color touchscreen measuring 1.39” (3.5 cm)
- Full HD graphics for stunning HoleVue® and IntelliGreen® imagery
- Powered by ultra-fast multi-core processor for instant response
- Preloaded with over 35,000 of SkyGolf’s ground-verified, error-corrected maps for unmatched accuracy
- Zoom and pan for extra detail and precision targeting
The best golf Laser Rangefinders
The best overall Laser Rangefinder
Bushnell Tour V5 Slim
Let the new V5 TOUR rangefinder take all the guesswork out of your game. This product has the perfect blend of reduced size, improved speed, and ranging accuracy, with BITE Technology which allows you to place magnetically onto your trolley for easy placement.
This fantastic Bushnell rangefinder features the superb PinSeeker Technology with new visual JOLT. This will provide you with short vibrating bursts and a visual red ring to reinforce that the laser has locked onto the flag position.
The multi-coated optics and 6x magnification make it even easier to lock on to your target from longer distances, meaning objects look even closer and clearer than ever before.
- Pinseeker Technology with Visual Jolt
- BITE Magnetic Technology
- 6x Magnification
- Protective Case
The most simple to use Laser Rangefinder
Nikon COOLSHOT 20 GII
The Coolshot 20 is a great entry-level rangefinder that’s not overly expensive and does the job it was designed to do.
If it’s your first rangefinder and you’re not a pro golfer like that, we’d recommend the Coolshot.
It’s super small and lightweight and comes with a 2-year warranty.
- Far reaching range and precision targeting
- Fast and easy single or continuous measurement
- Bright images and easy viewing
- Compact, durable and lightweight
The best premium Laser Rangefinder
Shot Scope Pro LX+
It’s hard to believe it’s taken until 2022 for this to happen, really. A stroke of genius.
The Shot Scope H4 Handheld combines GPS and automatic performance-tracking technology. So yes, it’s a GPS AND Laser Rangefinder.
The GPS provides distances to the front, middle and back of greens as well as front and carry distances for every hazard.
The app uses the data collected to generate over 100 statistics so you can see exactly where you are losing shots and what you need to work on to improve your game.
The Shot Scope Pro LX laser now features slope technology which, importantly, can be turned on and off so it complies with tournament regulations within the Rules of Golf.
- PRO LX+ (PRO LX Laser + H4 Handheld GPS)
- 16 x Tracking Tags
- Protective Carry Case / USB Charger / CR123 Battery
- Free iOS / Android App & Statistics Platform
The best value Laser Rangefinder
The TecTecTec VPro500 is exactly what you may expect from a no-frills, budget-friendly golf rangefinder.
The total range for the TecTecTec VPro500 is 540 yards. This is plenty long enough for the average golfer, and it claims to have one yard of accuracy.
The TecTecTec VPro500 is also considered an eye-safe laser rangefinder that will not strain your vision from continuous use. Good news if you are really golf obsessed!
The TecTecTec Vpro500 is very lightweight, compact and portable. The exterior is durable, and there is a carrying pouch that comes with the unit to help keep it safe.
- Pin-Sensor Technology
- Through the Lens Display
- Lightweight and portable